Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Take on "Chiropractic Mission" Trips

This post may end up being slightly controversial but it's a subject that is dear to me.  As you know by now, my passion lies within serving the international community so one may automatically assume I'm a fan of chiropractic mission trips? Right? Well... you'd be wrong.

For those of you who do not know what I'm referring to, chiropractic mission trips are trips that are focused on traveling somewhere and adjusting/treating the masses gratis.  The idea behind these, I do support however it is how they are organized, who they are marketed to and the service/disservice that they do, is what forms my opinions.

Throughout my chiropractic education, I've heard tens of stories from students who have gone on these trips. These are my conclusions:

1.  They are not recruited out of a mindset of service but out of a want to travel and experience culture.
2.  No adjusting skills are necessary "we'll teach it to you".
3.  They serve one area for a day or two and no one will ever return to continue care.
4.  The companies who coordinate these trips, make money out of exploiting students.

The students who come back from these trips regale in their long days, adjusting hundreds of people and the boost in their adjusting skills.  Which is fine, they are utterly excited about their experiences and FINALLY feel ready to enter clinic.  But I ask you, why aren't these students focused on honing their craft with their peers and professors? Why do they feel the need to "practice" on unknowing people in an exotic location somewhere?  I believe this misstep to be unprofessional and borderline dangerous.

Or this?

The key is that these students feel theses trips makeup in what they think their institution lacks.  Heck, if you put in front of me the options to go to Peru or to sit in a lab for hours, weeks, months, years to perfect my art.  I'd probably choose Peru too! But what about all of the things you learn from being in the lab for hours? Perseverance, Collaboration, Hard Work, Dedication? Why are we short changing ourselves?

In the mission trip option instance, the patient is the last thing they are considering.  In our field, the patient comes first! To be a successful healthcare practitioner, this is how your mindset must be.  Why aren't we of that mindset when we first step foot into our educational career?  I'm not sure.  Some will argue that being adjusted once is better than never being adjusted at all.  I think that's cruel!  These patients experience a glimpse of hope, perhaps pain-free movement for the first time in Lord knows how long and then you're just going to leave?

IF a "Chiropractic Mission Trip" is a must then at least do it in an area where you can refer them to an office.  Or better yet, GO SERVE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY and actually make a difference!  Set up a clinic and make cultural impact, don't drop in for a few days just so you can have a resume booster.  It's irresponsible and unprofessional. Rant over.


  1. And just what are you doing "internationally" that's sooooooo important? You're traveling to exotic locations, meeting young vibrant chiro students trying to make a difference(sarcasm). I've been to these meetings, there's a lot of drinking, and sexing that goes on in the good name of chiropractic promotion. A recent Business Week report had Georgia the 3rd highest poverty stricken state in the nation. Isn't that your backyard? Seems the good citizens of Georgia can use a healthy dose of Chiropractic. What, is poverty not glamorous enough for you? Does poverty not have any committees for you to sit on and put on YOUR resume? There's enough work in healthcare to be done within our borders without having to go elsewhere. And Chiropractors only see about 9% of the population(2014 Gallop Poll) as opposed to 12% just two years ago. It would seem that the most work needs to be done right here in the U.S. So how can you have time to devote to your beloved WCS? But I imagine you like the jet-setting, you like the prestige that comes with being on an international committee. Think twice before passing judgement, because some of that dust may get into your eyes.

  2. You clearly haven't kept abreast of what WCCS has been doing. Let me update you: WCCS is now a registered NPO incorporated in Canada. WCCS is doing yearly global community service initiatives, supports international mobility (ie being able to practice anywhere in the world) and has representatives to several important licensing/regulating/influential organizations world-wide.

    Just because I graduated from a college in Georgia means nothing in regards to where I practice. As a matter of fact, I'll be returning to Ghana (a third world country) to practice for a minimum of 2 years to continue in the clinics where I completed my internship.

    It seems like you've absolutely missed the point in my post. I'm wholely about serving the international community, I've been devoted to it since my chiropractic education began. What I'm not a fan of is the cruelty that takes place during "chiro mission trips" in the form of poor patient care. If we as a profession want to ACTUALLY change those areas or to serve the chiropractic-less areas then we need quality chiropractors to set up long term practices in those areas. Not just drop in for a week and never return.

  3. I didn't miss your point. You clearly missed mine though. I do keep very much abreast of what WCCS is doing. I used to be very, and I mean very much involved in WCCS, until I devoted my energies to helping to promote Chiropractic within our borders. Just a reminder, The kind folks in Ghana need a helluva lot more than adjusting. Open your eyes. Chiropractic is a non-emergency therapeutic intervention. I am a DC. I know the value of our profession. People in a third world country no more need Chiropractic, than they do a 70" HDTV. But you jet setting "do-gooders"make yourselves feel like your making a difference by traveling to these 'THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES". There are an estimated 2 million homeless people in the US alone, another 3.5 million school children in the southern region of the US alone without access to quality Healthcare. Why not devote all of your resources to helping your fellow American. That's what I thought, You'll lose your status as a WCCS guru amongst your friends. Remember, Ive been there.........I used to be you. Have fun in Ghana!!